Her parents are gone, and her brother and sisters sent to live with other people. Lyddie Worthen is on her own. When Lyddie hears about the mill jobs in Lowell, Massachusetts, she heads there with the goal of earning enough money to reunite her family. Six days a week from dawn to dusk Lyddie and the other girls run weaving looms in the murky dust - and lint-filled factory. Lyddie learns to read - and to handle the menacing overseer. But when the working conditions begin to affect her friends' health, she has to make a choice. Will she speak up for better working conditions and risk her job - and her dream? Or will she stay quiet until it is perhaps too late?